What is mallet finger?

Rachel Rohde, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

Mallet finger, or inability to extend the joint at the very end of the finger, results from the tendon being torn from the bone. Sometimes the tendon tears off a piece of bone; this is called a “mallet fracture.” These are treated best by splinting the joint in slight hyperextension, allowing the tendon to heal. This splint usually is kept in place constantly for six to eight weeks.

Mallet finger is also called baseball or basketball finger, as the tip of the finger is hit by a ball, which causes an extensor tendon to tear away from the bone. This results in an inability to straighten the last joint of the finger.

Mallet finger is often treated with the use of a specially-designed splint that covers only the injured joint. The splint must be worn continuously for a minimum of six weeks to allow the tendon to heal. In some cases, surgery may be needed if it doesn’t heal.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Indiana University Athletic Training Education Program)

Continue Learning about Muscle & Connective Tissue Injuries

What is ACL reconstruction surgery?
Reston Hospital CenterReston Hospital Center
An ACL reconstruction is a surgical replacement of the torn ACL.
More Answers
How can knee ligaments be repaired?
Reston Hospital CenterReston Hospital Center
Knee ligament reconstruction replaces a torn ligament in the knee, with ACL reconstruction falling i...
More Answers
What causes an ACL injury?
St Francis Medical CenterSt Francis Medical Center
Most anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are the result of a specific trauma and are associate...
More Answers
Why may I need ACL surgery?
Dr. Scott D. Martin, MDDr. Scott D. Martin, MD
Although the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) cannot heal, one in three people can regain enough str...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.